DEAR ABBY: I'm a 25-year-old woman with no future. I am the youngest of three daughters. My parents are divorced and my sisters are both married. Mom has no income of her own, so it's mainly me.
I have come to realize that I'll never be able to have an apartment of my own or fully live my life because of her. She's controlling and always finds a way to make me feel guilty about going out or enjoying myself. I have never had a relationship because she has always found a way of sabotaging any relationship I'm in.
I think she's bipolar, but she doesn't believe in medication or that it's even real. I feel as if I'm being forced to take care of her, and when I finally have a chance to have a real life, it will be too late.
I have discussed this with my sisters, but they haven't helped. I'm very depressed and don't know what to do. If I bring this up with Mom, she gets angry and won't talk to me for days. Please help me find a way out. -- TRAPPED IN CHICAGO
DEAR TRAPPED: Your umbilical cord was supposed to have been severed 25 years ago, at birth. You are an adult individual who deserves happiness and freedom from this attachment to your mother.
She may not believe in doctors and therapists -- and that's her privilege as long as she's not a danger to herself and others. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't talk with a mental health professional about this unhealthy situation.
Your sisters haven't helped you because they have their freedom and don't want to share the responsibility you have been carrying alone. And your mother doesn't want to let go of you because if she does, she'll have to assume responsibility for herself.
Please act now. Your escape hatch is the door to a therapist's office. You deserve a life, so go there and get one.
DEAR ABBY: I recently found out that my boyfriend of three years -- the only man I have ever been with -- cheated on me with a woman I thought was a good friend. I love him and have decided to take him back and fight for what we had. He assured me that he wants to be only with me, that what he did was "stupid" and he has learned his lesson.
Abby, although I have forgiven him, I can't bring myself to forgive her. I have never been someone who holds a grudge, but I have so much hate for her that it scares me. I did get professional help, but it didn't work.
I don't want to be like this. This is not who I am. I'm worried about how I might react when I see her. I can't avoid her since we work in the same industry. Why can I forgive him but not her? -- MOVING FORWARD IN TEXAS
DEAR MOVING FORWARD: Probably because having invested three years in the "only man you have ever been with," you don't want it to have been for nothing -- so you're directing the anger you still feel toward him at the woman you would like to imagine seduced him. (Remember, it takes two to tango.) Also, you may still regard her as a threat.
While you may have forgiven your boyfriend, do not forget what happened. A man who cheats and blames it on "stupidity" may do it again with someone else. You need to understand why he did what he did. Is he someone who lives only in the moment? Did he not consider how it would affect you? Is he capable of fidelity in the long run? From my perspective, you need answers to these questions because you may only now be getting to know who he really is.
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